MACARONI ASKS: I’m 12 years old, and I was wondering what you think about me playing it. I haven’t yet, and when i asked my dad (because he has it) he was pretty vague. I asked some friends of ours who have the game and they said the game wasn’t that gory or anything, just scary. Now I don’t like many scary things, but I can handle some things, so I wanted to know how scary it is, because I really want to play it. I’m pretty mature, I think (-: and I think I could handle it. I haven’t asked my dad recently, and he played it, just not much. Anyway, I wanted your opinion on if I should play it or not.

Here’s our exhaustive review from way back when.

And here’s the pertinent part, the Kid Factor – all by our one-time contributor: Dave Long – it’s important to note that the game was Rated T-Teen when it first came out and was upped to M partially due to a loud but small parental outcry and a misleading complaint about nudity – there was a hack where you could make characters nude. It’s been fixed and was more silly than offensive to begin with:

This game should be rated M-Mature. It features many adult situations and the violence is more graphic than a T rating implies. When you journey into Oblivion, the Hell-like plane of existence that runs red with rivers of lava and hangs with the mutilated corpses of the dead, it becomes plainly obvious that someone missed the mark. Many of the subquests are no less adult. One easily found and accepted one has you tracking down someone providing high quality goods for low prices to a local vendor. He’s “digging them up”. Nothing especially graphic appears onscreen, but the dialogue and situation are just not Teen friendly.

There’s a new question that this game raises with regard to the rating system. If you can do something that would normally score a game a Mature rating, but you leave it up to the player whether to do that or not, should the game be rated M? In this game you can murder pretty much anyone… in cold blood… while they’re sleeping. If that type of behavior was part of the story in any other T-rated game, would it be allowed? It’s certainly a question for the ESRB. Here you’re “rewarded” for murder by getting an offer to join the Dark Brotherhood. These folks are assassins. They kill folks in their sleep as a job title. How many hitman-type games are rated T?

Thieving is an acceptable profession in the game. You pay the piper if you get caught, but stealing everyone blind is an option. Smashing someone in the head with an axe or mace is not gory, but it definitely feels like you’re snuffing the life out of that person thanks to realistic physics. Afterward, you leave their cold, dead, unfeeling virtual corpse wherever you bashed it. Usually you want to take their stuff along to sell too, leaving them near naked (the female corpses are left in a bra and panties, the men in what looks like a loincloth) wherever they died. Come back in a couple game days and they might still be there. You can even pick up their lifeless frames and move them around. Toss them off a cliff if you like.

It just seems way too rough for the rating it received. All the things described above are so far beyond acceptable behavior outside of games and with the game often so intent on making everything seem “real” and trying to provide this “real” world to interact with and live within, it’s even more repulsive. Your kids are likely to do much of the above too. It’s human nature. You want to mess with things and see what happens, especially when it reacts realistically some of the time. It just doesn’t seem right to hand this game to a 13 year-old and let them go to town with some of those concepts. Err on the side of caution and skew this one older than the rating suggests.

I’ve never played Oblivion (shock! shudder!) but I know Bethesda’s RPGs.  Despite Dave’s opinion I’d feel comfortable with a kid as young as 12 playing only because the liberal spin here is that it originally got a T.  This makes it at most a “soft M.”  My suggestion?  Play it and discuss it with your dad as you play.  He was once an RPG fan, right? So it’s something you have in common and he can help you with any scary parts or questionable stuff.  Oblivion, above all, is a giant explorable world and I think that kind of gaming is good for teens.

So, yeah, 12 ok with some kind of parental involvement.

8 Responses to “Oblivion?”

  1. Thanks for the review GD,
    I’ll talk to my dad and get him to read this, and then if he says yes, like he probably will, I’ll start playing it with him. BTW, you’re right! He does/did like RPGs, he played through all of Final fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and partway through X. I think he didn’t really play this one because: one, it was too long,
    two, he didn’t really like it all that much I think,
    three, he never had time too because he’s usually busy,
    four, he has a million games to finish.
    Anyway, thanks for the review GD! I’ll play it with him sometime (probably on the weekend)
    Macaroni man

  2. Oblivion is a seriously awesome game. My main save has something like 90 hours on it (I don’t know how impressive that is to a die-hard RPGer, but I don’t often stick with games for that long, especially on just one character). And I’m only maybe halfway through the main questline.

    As a 15-year-old, I agree that Oblivion is a “soft M,” and in fact I think a T is probably more appropriate. It does lean towards the mature side here and there, and I can see why parents might be concerned about questlines dedicated on thievery or assassination (as the review says, there is one of each), but in general, it’s nothing I would be surprised to see in a typical fantasy world. 12 is perfectly fine, especially if your dad plans to play with you.

  3. Oblivion really is a very soft M. Probably the softest one I’ve played. However, I didn’t play very much because I really wasn’t a fan. I couldn’t get into the leveling system. I’m more of a Fallout 3 guy but that’s just me.

  4. I’m kind of torn because it really does deserve the M title. Once you really get indepth with the game, it gets really dark and disturbing like the Dark Brotherhood quests. JReally soft M? How could ou say that and haven’t even finished the game let alone a side quest?

  5. Hey GD,
    I need some advice again. I have a 5 year old brother, and I want to play moern warfare 2. Now I know you get mail about mw2 all the time, but that is not what this is about. I`ve played mw2 at a friend`s house, and I just played the cliffhanger demo with my dad watching. (The cliffhanger demo is a new demo for mw2 they just released.) Anyhow, I just want your suggestions about my little brother. He`s watched me play Team Fortress 2, but I`ve been getting a vibe they wouldn`t want him watching mw2, if I got it. Now thats the problem. He likes watching people, and sometimes he`ll watch me even if I tell him not to. I don`t like constantly turning around, and I think mw2 (with it having so much action) would stop me doing that, even if I wanted to. While my dad could play along side me, he hardly ever has time for it except on weekends, when he has plenty of other stuff to do. It`s a room with 2 hallway size openings, so we couldn`t just lock a door. This might be something you can`t answer, but since you have a five year old son, I thought you might have some experiance with that kind of thing. If you don`t have an answer, that`s fine, but if you have any advice, please give me it.

  6. this game is not a teen I played it and trowed it in the trash. you can take human body parts to throw it in a cauldron for dark margin. profanity is not a problem.
    there is some form of girl looking plants that reveals way too much in game. it looks like if they just drawn the leaves in their body with paint.
    there is violence against women in the game whether good or bad.
    stealing is encouraged in game.
    you worship other gods including 3 demons.

    this game is not for kids. I am sorry i would not buy it nor play it again.

    besides the game does conflict with my christian roman catholic faith.

    if you want another suggestion I recommend a strategy game called stronghold crusaders,
    i do not mean crusaders 2, because I have not played t. but i recommend the first one.

  7. It was originaly rated t but th ESRB didnt think and just rated it m. So 12year olds reading this oblivion is okay for you.there is hardly any gore or blood and drugs can be avoided in the game and though it says themes there is none of it in it.

  8. I do not agree with any of steve’s Comment’s on the game,I’m Currently 15 Started playing Oblivion back when i was 8 (On PC Non Modded No Expansion’s)
    And i really enjoyed the game. So then i got it xbox (GOTY) Though i’d have to admit some of the Shivering Isle’s did creep me out a bit… Though most of the game is Pretty Much Fine.
    (Playing Oblivion Right as i comment!)

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